Sexuality Education for All
Commitment on HIV prevention and sexual health for young people in East and Southern Africa
“It is not acceptable that our young people do not have appropriate access to good quality HIV and sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services that could save their lives. Ministers can show leadership by supporting this commitment to protect young people.”
Professor Sheila Tlou, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team (East and Southern Africa)
UNESCO, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and UNAIDS have launched an initiative on HIV prevention and sexual health for all young people that has the potential to change the course of the HIV epidemic in Eastern and Southern Africa and make good quality HIV and sexuality education and youth-friendly services widely available.
For the first time national and regional leaders from health and education will come together to review the evidence on young people’s sexual health needs and concerns, in order to mobilize political commitment, investment and effort around a programme of action.
WHY THIS INITIATIVE?
The continuing high rates of HIV prevalence in the region, the high numbers of new infections amongst young people, the high levels of unintended pregnancy as well as other unmet sexual and reproductive health needs remain of significant concern. Whilst HIV prevalence and incidence have declined in some high burden countries over the past decade, these reductions remain insufficient and significant numbers of young people, predominantly young women, are still becoming newly infected.
The initiative is led by a High-Level Group composed of regional leaders in education, sexual and reproductive health and rights and development. It is chaired by Prof Sheila Tlou, former Minister of Health of Botswana and Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for ESA. Members of the High Level Group include: H.E Festus Mogae (Chairman, Champions for an HIV Free Generation); H.E Salma Kikwete, First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania; and David Coltart, Minister of Education, Zimbabwe amongst others. For more details on the High-Level Group click here.
At regional level the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa will play a key role in facilitating dialogue at intergovernmental level. A Technical Committee comprising UN partners, bi-lateral and multi-lateral development agencies and civil society organizations will guide and support the High-Level Group.
The first major task is the production of a regional diagnostic report on the status of HIV and sexuality education and sexual health services in 21 countries in the region. The report, currently in preparation, will be used to mobilize high-level political support for a commitment to good quality comprehensive HIV and sexuality education agreed to and signed by ESA country ministers of education and health. A series of regional consultations focused on involving young people (particularly those living with HIV) and other key stakeholders in government and civil society will inform the development of the commitment and the final recommendations to the HLG and policy-level decision makers later in 2012/early 2013.
Contact: Patricia Machawira UNESCO Regional AIDS Advisor p.machawira(at)unesco.org